WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Rick Pender 05.18.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
onstage 5-16 - titanic - photo provided by cincinnati music theatre

Stage Door: Last Call for 'Titanic'

If I were you, I’d to my best to catch a performance of Titanic: The Musical before it closes on Saturday at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. The show puts you in the midst of dozens of characters as they board the ship, overflowing with great expectations — of success, of escaping poverty, of new life in America, of achieving dreams. You get to know them, and then you see the tragedy that comes their way after the tragic collision with an iceberg in April 1912. Maury Yeston’s score is all about choral singing, and Cincinnati Music Theatre, one of our most ambitious community theaters, makes it work with an impressive physical production and great voices. Full review: here. Tickets: 513-621-2787. I’m pleased to tell you that Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has done a fine job with its production of The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays. It’s officially categorized as a comedy because it has humorous and romantic elements. But the central story about a potentially fatal argument between a moneylender and a businessman is anything but amusing. CSC’s artistic director Brian Isaac Phillips takes on the role of the rapacious moneylender who has faced anti-Semitic discrimination for his entire life. Is Shylock a villain or a victim? Shakespeare gives him aspects of each, and CSC’s production, directed by Jeremy Dubin does not tilt in either direction. It’s up to you to decide, and that’s how this show works best. Full review: here. Box office: 513-381-2273, x1. Life Could Be A Dream, Roger Bean’s sequel to The Marvelous Wonderettes and a show ful of teen hits from the ’50s and ’60s, concludes its successful run at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati this weekend. This time it’s boys, and that’s most of the difference. As in the two Wonderette shows, Dream is shot through with adolescent angst, this time around a local radio station contest that could “make them famous.” Audiences seem to have loved this excuse for two dozen tunes from the era, and ETC is keeping its cast busy to the very end, adding an extra finale on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Box office: 513-421-3555. This is also the final weekend for you to get down with the Blues in the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of Thunder Knocking on the Door. The show, a hit for the Playhouse in 1999 has been thoroughly and creatively reimagined. The musical — with emotional tunes mostly by Keb’ Mo’ — tells the story of the power of love, music and Blues guitar players. It’s presented with panache, including technology and design that are all about 2012. Through Sunday. Full review: here. Box office: 513-421-3888. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 
by Rick Pender 05.11.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Les Miserables

Stage Door: Musicals Rule the Weekend

I was at the Tuesday night opening of a one-week run of the tour of the 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables. You might be saying, “I’ve seen that before — more than once.” But this is a new version — no more turntable or pirouetting barricades. Now we have some startling video that let’s you see the rebellious students marching in the streets of Paris and Jean Valjean carrying Marius through the sewers. The tour has great voices in all the roles; the volume was amped up beyond my hearing threshold, but it’s a powerful show — after all these years. Through Sunday at the Aronoff Center. Tickets: 800-982-2787. Here’s a tip if you want something that’s new(ish): The Light in the Piazza was a Tony Award winner in 2005, and it’s being staged by one of the most reliable community theaters in the Cincinnati area, Footlighters Inc., at its Stained Glass Theatre in Newport. It’s a romantic love story set in Italy in 1953, told with sophisticated music, sometimes operatic performances. In June 2006, just before it closed, it was broadcast on the PBS Live from Lincoln Center series, drawing more than two million viewers. That many can’t make it to Newport (it runs through May 19), but if you’re interested, Footlighters is offering a “buy one, get one” deal for its 2 p.m. matinee this Sunday, May 13. Tickets: 859-652-3849. If you resonate with the Blues, I recommend that you head to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for Keith Glover’s Thunder Knocking on the Door. It’s a revival of sorts from 1999 — but thoroughly and creatively reimagined for the Eden Park’s last mainstage production of Ed Stern’s final season leading the Tony Award-winning theater. The musical — with emotional tunes mostly by Keb’ Mo’ — tells the story of the power of love, music and Blues guitar players. It’s presented with panache, including technology and design that are all about 2012. Through May 20. Box office: 513-421-3888. The Doo-Wop silliness of The Marvelous Wonderettes, a hit from 2010 at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, is brought to life again with Life Could Be A Dream, Roger Bean’s sequel to the story of some bubbly girls who bond around teen hits from the ’50s and ’60s. This time it’s boys, and that’s most of the difference. As in the two Wonderette shows, Dream is shot through with adolescent angst, this time around a local radio station contest that could “make them famous.” It’s an excuse for two dozen tunes from the era, a familiar formula. But ETC’s talented cast makes it a lot of fun. (Through May 20.) Box office: 513-421-3555. This weekend is your final chance to see Know Theatre’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. (Final performance is Saturday.) It’s a youthful mix of political commentary, driving Rock, history, humor and sober observations about America’s seventh president — played as a Rock hero. I gave it a Critic’s Pick. Call the box office to see if there are any cancellations: 513-300-5669. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 

Tigers Be Still (Review)

Kim Rosenstock's dysfunctional characters make for an entertaining slice of modern life

0 Comments · Monday, March 26, 2012
I read Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still before I saw the production currently onstage at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. I confess that I found it amusing but not hilarious, perhaps even a tad predictable. I didn’t anticipate that with solid direction by Rob Ruggiero and spot-on casting, Rosenstock’s script manages to be charming, funny, optimistic and perhaps even heart-warming.   

On the Theatrical Horizon

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Most CityBeat readers want to read about things to do right here and right now, so I don’t allocate many words to theater season announcements that show up this time of year. Keep your eye on citybeat.com, especially the arts blog, for up-to-the-minute information and recommendations.  

In My Humble Opinion...

1 Comment · Tuesday, February 15, 2011
What the heck are theater critics good for? Few of us are actually curmudgeons who revel in badmouthing actors and shows. Most I know are theater fans. I typically attend a show full of optimism, expecting to be entertained. I love it when something unexpected happens and I only write negatively when I feel a production has failed to live up to its promise. I’m especially thrilled by fresh interpretations or revelatory performances.  

Fun? I'll Second That

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 9, 2010
If I say "Second City," you say "Chicago?" Maybe. But I bet "comedy club" comes in a close "second." The Windy City’s legendary improv club is now exporting city-specific shows around the country, including one right here for Cincinnati audiences at Playhouse in the Park for the holidays.  

David Gallo: Master of Alternative Universes

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 15, 2010
David Gallo, 44, is everywhere, from 'Yo Gabba Gabba Live' and 'Spongebob Squarepants' to Broadway musicals in the U.S. and around the world. His realistic designs for several August Wilson plays earned Tony nominations, and his whimsical set for 'The Drowsy Chaperone' was a 2006 Tony winner. So what brings him to Cincinnati? "The Playhouse in the Park is unquestionably my favorite regional theater," Gallo says.  

Springing Forward With the Stars

0 Comments · Monday, March 15, 2010
As Daylight Savings Time arrived last Sunday, local theaters began to turn the spotlight to their 2010-11 seasons. News is seeping out regarding what we'll see in the year ahead, and I want to share some newsworthy details about the Cincinnati Playhouse, Broadway Across America and Cincinnati Shakespeare Co.  

Daddy Long Legs (Review)

Playhouse musical is expressive, impressive world premiere

0 Comments · Monday, March 22, 2010
Nearly a century has elapsed since Jean Webster's 1912 novel 'Daddy Long Legs' was published. Now her story of a talented, forthright foundling named Jerusha and her mysterious, reclusive mentor returns, this time onstage in an expressive, impressive world premiere musical at the Cincinnati Playhouse from playwright-director John Caird (who won a Tony for his Broadway work on 'Les Miserables') and composer-lyricist Paul Gordon (whose 'Emma' won audience approval at the Playhouse last season).  

How? How? Why? Why? Why? (Review)

NPR's Kevin Kling was born to spin tales

0 Comments · Monday, February 22, 2010
If God really did create people so he'd have an endless supply of stories — to quote a line from the likable 'How? How? Why? Why? Why?' now at the Playhouse — then the heavens must be smiling down on Kevin Kling. The playwright/performer well known to fans of National Public Radio seems to have been born, raised and divinely ordained to spin a tale.  

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